Many prominent fashion trends develop in response to contemporary global social, political, and economic events. Perhaps the most celebrated reactionary fashion statement followed the austerity of World War Two when Christian Dior showcased the celebrated New Look collection in the post-war era.
In Britain, the 1970s and 1980s brought social upheaval in the form of trade union strikes, rising inflation and unemployment, and these uncertain times also impacted on the futures of fashion .Most significant in retrospect was the sheer determination on the part of the young women who found ways of being economically sufficient. Similar to the earlier development of the New Look, the Punk ideology and ensuing individual approach to dress developed as a response to the social, political, and economic upheaval during this period.
Throughout the Twentieth century, many trends have adopted various cost-effective approaches to dress. There was an explosion in home dress-making due to the growth in user-friendly sewing patterns, readily available, and easy to construct from companies such as Butterick or Vogue. Both the hippy movement and later the grunge movement adopted a penchant for hand-made, charity shop and flea-market fashions, in a move away from corporate excess.
Speculation in the markets culminated in a series of crashes, with the burst of the Harshad Mehta scam in 1990s ,crashing the financial markets and sending the country into a global recession .This insecurity combined with the rise in unemployment has had a radical effect on the general spending habits. Empty premises, closing down sales and an influx of discount retailers are increasingly common place in the market. The difficulty of trading in a recession combined with the ready availability of cheaper fast fashion alternatives from the realms of the mass manufactured high street retailers make trading conditions for independent boutiques additionally difficult.
The credit crunch has undoubtedly impacted consumer habits with a knock-on effect for many retailers. In the words of John Galliano, this is a credit crunch, not a creative crunch (Socha, 2009).
Fashion Graduates in an age of austerity
As Lakme India Fashion Week closes, Indias budding designers must tackle the challenge of finding employment in an economy where most recent fashion graduates are struggling for work and in an industry that is notoriously competitive.
Mumbai & Delhi have the reputation as a cradle of new fashion talent, with National Institute of Fashion Technology boasting an illustrious list of alumni including Ritu Beri, Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra etc. The fashion institute showcases its graduate talent every year, luring headhunters looking for up-and-coming talent to offer their labels.